Bryan recently moved from Austin to Barcelona in Northwest Spain out of a sense of God's calling to do so. There he is studying an MBA, teaching English and seeking to reproduce, by God's grace, something of what he has experienced of God amongst us here at BridgePoint. Here is part of his story ...
There are pivotal moments that you can point to in your life which have changed who you are and the path you take. One of those moments for me was when I came to know and be a part of a community which I had never experienced before. In the spring of 2005, I realized that I had come to a place where I had no connection to the church or a body of believers. The direction of my life did not reflect that Christ was a priority, so much so that I don't know if anyone would have known that I was a Christian unless I told them. I realized that I had to make a change because I wasn't living for God anymore. I was living for myself. A friend of mine invited me to join him for church at Bridgepoint, and I accepted because I needed to make a move to get back to God because standing still in my spiritual journey was getting me nowhere. What I experienced was far more than I imagined.
Before I came to Bridgepoint, I went through many unsatisfying church experiences. As a result, my desire for community evaporated, and I thought it to be best that I pursue God on my own. After attempting to test my will as a means to sustain my relationship with God for such a long time, I realized that I had not grown more spiritually mature and that I felt I was fighting a continuous battle to experience and connect with God. I didn't understand why I was going through this and thought that it was because of my shortcomings. It wasn't until Bridgepoint that I realized the importance of community in my spiritual life.
At Bridgepoint I experienced a group of authentic Christ-followers who strived to be spirit-led in the way they lived their lives. I was amongst people who did not believe that church was simply to meet on Sundays, learn about God's truths, and then to go back to our daily lives until the next opportunity to join together again. Church was to happen throughout our weeks, months, and years. I was amongst a people who lived in the light in the sense that there lives were revealed as they were, including both the good and the bad. Jesus' ministry was one of relationship, and I could see through this community that this aspect of the church was being lived out.
It is true that our relationship with Christ is a personal one, but it cannot be mistaken to mean that our spiritual lives are to be lived in isolation. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul writes about the church being the body of Christ, which all Christians are a part of, and I believe this to be a very important message about the church. We have all been gifted in ways to serve one another and Christ, for a body functions not solely through certain parts but all of them. The church functions as it should through community. Christ not only has gifted us and planted his Spirit in us to be his hands and feet in the world, but also to support and sustain one another in Christ. Through community, Christ reveals himself and we experience a richness in him in ways we cannot experience ourselves. We are edified through one another. Christ loves us through the support, encouragement, authenticity, and intentionality we experience through the communities we are a part of.
Through those I came to know and share life with at Bridgepoint, I experienced Christ in ways I never had before, and my desire to pursue Christ was not only for myself, but for the community as well, because I knew that Christ uses me to bless them as they have blessed me. I now cannot separate church from a genuine experience of community. Through community, Christ has empowered me to be faithful and to live a spirit-led life, whether He calls me to places far away or to my own backyard.
You can read about Bryan's continuing adventure in Barcelona at his blog by clicking here.